A global contest to grow seeds and share your progress with the Raspberry Pi

My early growlab

My green beans

A capture from phototimer of my seed tray with a wide-angle camera positioned above

My rig

My own growlab laboratory

Graduated seedlings

Graduated seedlings


How it works

  1. Read the launch blog post: Join the Grow Lab Challenge.
  2. Decide you're taking part by sending a PR and adding yourself to the "growlab Technicians" section below.
  3. Find or buy the required components for the experiments you want to take part in (read all of this file to learn more)
  4. Build your own #growlab using one of the designs, or customise it. And start growing and recording a timelapse.
  5. Use the #growlab hashtag and share as many pictures as you like.
  6. Send a Pull Request and link to each Tweet to unlock each level.
  7. At the conclusion of the growing period, we'll send some prizes from OpenFaaS Ltd and Pimoroni to entries at random for different tiers.

Note: Growlab 2021 concludes Sunday 3rd October to mark Harvest Festival in the United Kingdom.

Prizes to be provided by: OpenFaaS Ltd and Pimoroni. Want to sponsor or provide prizes? Send an email to [email protected]

Unlock each level

Before you get started with your build, send a PR to list yourself as a "lab technician".

Bronze - assemble your #growlab using one of the recommend designs or customise it. Tweet a photo of your build fully assembled.

Silver - install the software and capture your first photo of your seed tray or pots. Tweet the photo.

Gold - Wait until at least one of your seeds has germinated and grown into a seedling - around 2-3cm in height. Tweet the photo taken by the timelapse software.

Platinum - use the phototimer or seeds2 software to capture images over 14 days. Compile the images into a timelapse and upload it to YouTube. We recommend one photo every 10 minutes. Feel free to exclude any photos prior to the seeds germinating. Tweet a link to the video.

Growlab Technicians

Technicians work in laboratories, and you are no different, so if you've bought your kit, or have decided to join, then add your details below so that we can encourage each other and see how many people are participating. If you don't have a Twitter or GitHub handle just put N/a.

# Name Twitter GitHub Live preview URL Country
1 Alex Ellis @alexellisuk alexellis Live preview with the growlab app United Kingdom
2 Simon Emms @MrSimonEmms MrSimonEmms Images captured by phototimer United Kingdom
3 Richard Gee @rgee0 rgee0 Most recently captured image United Kingdom
4 Jakob Waibel @jakobwaibel JakWai01 Live preview with the growlab app Germany
5 Florian Clanet @FlolightC Flolight
6 Felix Pojtinger @pojntfx pojntfx
7 Sam Perrin @sam_perrin sam-perrin United Kingdom
8 Philippe Charrière @k33g_org k33g
9 John McCabe @mccabejohn johnmccabe United Kingdom
10 Adam Craggs @abigpancake agcraggs United Kingdom
11 Martin Woodward @martinwoodward martinwoodward Live preview United Kingdom
12 Jérôme Velociter @jvelo jvelo France
13 Philippe Ensarguet @p_ensarguet pensarguet Live preview France
14 Sander Vanhove @SanderWaylay SanderVanhove Live preview
15 Sergei Vasilev @nblpblc sergevas Live preview
16 IbooNox @iboonox iboonox
17 Allan Pead @adpead apead
18 Keith Hubner @keithhubner keithhubner Live preview
19 Antoine Mouchere @mouchere_a amouchere Live preview
20 Kyle Brennan @kylos101 kylos101 Live Preview
21 Ben Hughes @bwghghs bwghughes Live Preview
22 Carlos Panato @comedordexis cpanato Live Preview Germany
23 Plant Holmes @plantholmes scrimples
24 Marian Horgan @always_marian Quarkiness Ireland
25 Felipe Cruz @felipecruz felipecruz91 Live preview with the growlab app Spain
26 Iván Gómez @ivanusatuiter igomezal Live Preview Spain
27 Thibault Jochem @tryumk tryum N/A (yet) France
28 Peter Dongo @TheDaN997 dpeter79 Live preview with the growlab app Hungary
29 Dalton Cole @LessTechnology dalton-cole Live preview United States
30 Beril Kurt @berlonics berlonics Germany

Live preview URLs

A live preview URL keeps things interesting and lets the community get a view inside your lab.

See the new growlab app for your Raspberry Pi

Contest entries #growlab ???

Name Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Alex Ellis Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Simon Emms Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Richard Gee Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Jakob Waibel Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Florian Clanet Bronze Silver
Felix Pojtinger
Sam Perrin Bronze Silver Gold
Philippe Charrière
John McCabe Bronze Silver
Adam Craggs Bronze
Martin Woodward Bronze Silver Gold
Jérôme Velociter Bronze
Philippe Ensarguet Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Sander Vanhove Bronze Silver Gold
Sergei Vasilev Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
IbooNox Bronze Silver Gold
Allan Pead Bronze Silver
Keith Hubner Bronze Silver Gold
Antoine Mouchere Bronze
Kyle Brennan
Carlos Panato Bronze Silver
Felipe Cruz Bronze Silver
Marian Horgan Bronze Silver Gold
Thibault Jochem Bronze
Peter Dongo Bronze Silver
Iván Gómez Bronze Silver Gold
Dalton Cole Bronze Silver

Official growlab apps

We have three experiments that you can take part in:

  1. phototimer - Record images for the timelapse contest

    You'll need a Raspberry Pi Zero or greater with a camera module. This is required for the contest.

  2. live preview app - Generate and upload a live-preview with sensor data growlab app

    You'll need a Raspberry Pi Zero or greater with a camera module. If you have a BME280 sensor or BMP280 sensor, then you can add sensor data to the live preview image. This is optional for the contest, but recommended so that you can share with the community.

  3. data-logger - Capture environment data and plot on a Grafana dashboard

    You'll need an RPi 3 or 4 to run the time series database, and dashboard. Then you can attach a sensor to this unit directly, or have a number of other Raspberry Pi Zeros or greater with the BME280 sensor or BMP280 sensor.

    The data-logger does not require you to grow any plants, you can even use it to monitor your home and garden temperatures during the year. This experiment is optional.

Focusing your camera

Some cameras like the HQ camera are variable focus, the cheaper lenses can also have their glue broken to enable them to close focus.

Low latency with built-in web-browser:

"Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera setup for low-latency Video Conferencing"

Quick and functional:

# On your Raspberry Pi
raspivid -t 0 -w 1280 -h 720 -fps 10 -o - | nc -lkv4 8080

# On your computer, enter this URL into VLC under "Network Stream"
# Replace with your Raspberry Pi's IP

Making your timelapse

If you're using phototimer, then you can run the following with ffmpeg. It's advised that you copy the images to your PC before running the command since the Raspberry Pi Zero is rather slow at crunching videos.

echo $(echo $(find ./Desktop/image/ | sort -V|grep jpg)) | xargs cat | ffmpeg  -framerate 10 -f image2pipe -vcodec mjpeg -i - -vcodec libx264 out.mp4

iMovie is also relatively easy to use, by dragging the images into the timeline and changing the time between images to ~ 0.1s

Here's a sample from 9th-22nd April you can watch on YouTube:

Click here to watch my video timelapse

Extra points and taking things further

Self-watering system

A self-watering system

  • Overlay temperature and humidity data with a Bosch BME280 or BMP280 sensor
  • Add a self-watering system with a small pump and capacitive soil sensor
  • Try a garden RGB grow-light to give your seeds a little more help
  • Experiment with hydroponics
  • Install your lab in an outdoor greenhouse, shed or cold-frame
  • Use a light sensor / LDR or UV sensor measure available light
  • Try a suitable solar panel and battery capacity to run your experiment outdoors or in a room without a socket

Community projects and add-ons